Bryson DeChambeau and Tiger Woods will be using Bridgestone golf balls for the foreseeable future after inking long-term extensions with the equipment manufacturer. Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone Golf’s marketing manager, confirmed to GOLF.com that recent R&D work played a role in the decision to lock both players up to multi-year agreements.
“We wanted a multi-year situation for both of them because we have stuff we’re currently working with them on the R&D front, as well as some future stuff,” Mellow said. “That’s kind of the key to the multi-year deal. The Reactiv cover was a 6-year process to bring to market. It was important to keep that continuity because they’ve been so involved with the process.”
It was Woods who first let Bridgestone know they were onto something with the Reactiv cover found on the Tour B line. During a testing session a few years back, Woods continually started picking out the same prototype with the Reactiv cover technology, based solely on how it performed off the putter face, around the green and from the tee.
When Bridgestone rolled out eight prototypes during the first official testing session, Woods continued to pick out the ball with the Reactiv cover. It has since become the Tour B XS ball he uses in competition.
“When Tiger hits a shot, he can provide feel and feedback beyond what we’re capable of getting from the robots and launch monitors,” Mellow said. “Very small nuanced and decimal percentage differences in, say, the thickness of a mantle layer. It’s the stuff that in a data collection set doesn’t really show up, but he notices it. That’s where we rely on Tiger.”
While Woods will continue to be involved in the testing and prototyping process, DeChambeau, who plays the Tour B X, wanted more. Even more than what Bridgestone initially proposed when the two sides started discussing a new deal. Going forward, DeChambeau will be very involved in all areas of golf ball R&D.
“He requested a certain level of participation that was far beyond what we were asking, which is pretty cool,” Mellow said. “He’s already involved in the design of numerous balls, not just the one he plays. He’s going to have his fingers in the Tour B line.”
According to Mellow, DeChambeau is already embracing his new role. He came to Bridgestone recently with an idea to utilize a technology that’s not currently in the golf industry. After taking a closer look at the undisclosed technology, Bridgestone developed a prototype version featuring DeChambeau’s suggestions that Mellow revealed “has developed into something larger that could be a cornerstone technology for us.”
“I’ve seen a lot of other guys sign up just to be spokesmen for a brand and collect a check,” DeChambeau said. “I have a much deeper role in mind with Bridgestone. I want to be a bigger part of their R&D process and help develop golf ball technology for the future of the game while pushing the limits of golf ball designs to benefit the full spectrum of players.”